In Beautiful Stitches – The Lost Art of Handcrafting

I love studying the lost art of handcrafting.  Weaving. Spinning.  Embroidery.  Cross-stitch.  Quilting.  These are just a few of the arts that our ancestors took part in – most of which was considered a necessity than a hobby.  Want your family to stay warm over a brutally cold winter?  You had better know how to quilt, knit, sew, and in some cases, how to spin and weave. 

the lost art of handcrafting includes cross-stitched samplers

The Lost Art of Handcrafting – A Deep Seated Fascination

The lost art of handcrafting has a way of speaking to my heart. I am fascinated by these crafts deeply enough that in most cases, I just have to at least try them.  It is also this love of the lost art of handcrafting that makes my heart leap when I find a piece at a garage sale. 

It breaks my heart to see a price tag of a dime on it.  Don’t they understand just how precious that is?  In a couple of cases, I have just had to break my own promise to myself not to bring home more stuff, regardless of how much I want it. 

When Aunt Emily passed away, it came down to Steve, Rose, Amie and me to sort through the house.  She and Dot were tremendous collectors, and I admit I had a difficult time allowing anything to go into the Estate Sale pile. 

Still, I don’t have a 10,000 square foot home that could house it all, so I had to choose ‘my share’ carefully.  As both were avid crafters, I headed to those boxes first.

the lost art of handcrafting - a bed spread done in with a printed cross-stitch

One familiar lost art of handcrafting is cross-stitch. Not the counted cross-stitch, but those samplers made with the design printed on fabric.

Dot loved to cross-stitch.  I remember her working on various pieces even as a very young child.  The one highlighted in the photo above has always been one of my favorites.  It is a combination of cross-stitch and simple embroidery on linen.  It is a great example of both her skills and her sense of humor.  Needless to say, it was one of the pieces I claimed first.

the lost art of handcrafting can be found at garage sales

The Lost Art of Handcrafts Found at Garage Sales

At a garage sale one day, I found this piece that spoke to my heart in so many ways.  It grabbed my attention first because of what it is – a pre-stamped mixed piece on linen. 

Many of the pre-stamped projects you find today are on cotton, or a cotton blend.  Linen is a bit harder to find, although they are still available.  Secondly, it was a more traditional sampler piece that depicts a poem, a Bible verse or a saying.  This one was a simple verse that relates to farming, nature and living in the Country.  I had to have it, and willingly paid the $1.00 they were asking for it – no haggling.

Embroidered dish towels

 Too Old Fashioned?

You may feel that the preprinted cross-stitch samplers are just too old fashioned to be bothered with.  But let me give you this food for thought, before you totally disregard them as a worthy craft. 

Some of the projects you can do with pre-printed gifts are appreciated more than you can know.  Pillowcases are a popular piece, and to give them as gifts are a gift of the heart.  I have a set that my daughter has been wanting me to give her for years.  They make wonderful shower gifts, and offer a piece of your heart to the recipient. 

Dishtowels that have been hand-embroidered make the difference between a same ol’, same ol’ gift and one that brings sparkles of delight in the eyes of the one who receives the gift. 

The lost art of handcrafting is also a great stress reducer. There is nothing better that can settle a harried mind than sitting down with a needle, thread and piece of fabric than working on a piece of embroidery.  You begin to focus more on the project and less on the problems, until you lift your head an hour later and find that your thoughts have settled and your heart is calm.

It is at this time you can pick up the ‘thread’ of what is most important, and sift out the worries and pressures of the other thoughts until they can be handled properly.

Ready to Learn?

Want to learn the lost art of handcrafting, but not sure where to start?  Visit your local craft shop and pick up a cross-stitch kit.  It can be as small as a Christmas ornament, or as large as quilt squares. 

Most already have the thread in the kit, so you don’t have to worry about choosing shades.  Once you have mastered this easy craft, move on to mixed pieces.  From there, you can easily build the confidence to tackle some of the more intricate crafts. 

But don’t Stop with Cross-Stitch!

There are so many categories under the lost art of handcrafting. Consider the fiber crafts such as knitting, crochet, macrame, weaving and spinning.

And then there is the lost art of handcrafting rugs, household items like curtains and gifts such as cornhusk dolls and wooden toys.

Take the Lost Art of Handcrafting a Step Further

If you find you are enjoying discovering the lost art of handcrafting in its many forms, considering ‘gifting’ someone else some of that joy. Start them small with a craft kit you think they will enjoy.

Then settle in and visit while you both learn one of the most precious and necessary lost arts – Handcrafting.

Next thing you know, you will have a taken the plunge into the lost art of handcrafting with joy. You will have a craft room that is so overloaded with the stashes from various crafts, you will be begging to build your own studio.

And if you figure out how to convince your honey to do that, will you please let me know how you did it?  I am still wading deeply in the lost art of handcrafting and coming up with new ideas every day. And I am STILL running up against a brick wall with getting a crafting studio!

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Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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